Peace building through interactions between citizens

Program background

The relationship between Japan and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) became deadlocked because of North Korea’s decision at the Party’s Assembly to pursue a “policy of parallel development” composed of nuclear development and economic growth. While the decision caused us to take precautions against its nuclear test and missile launch, the neighboring countries have not laid out an outline of comprehensive solutions. We, Japanese NGOs, have been continuing to do activities in order to connect citizens of both countries and contribute to stability and peace in the region of Northeast Asia where we are living.

Workshops for kite-making organized in several areas of East Asia (at Boys and Children’s Library in Yanji City, Jilin Province, China) .

Since starting activities in 1996, as a participating organization in the “Relief Campaign Committee for Children, Japan (RCCJ),” we have helped provide food assistance to North Korean children, natural energy assistance to rural areas, and emergency relief to regions severely affected by natural disasters. The situation in the region of East Asia has intensified, and there continues to be constraints such as economic sanctions on assistance from Japan. However, we are continuously engaged in humanitarian assistance by taking the position that “it should be separated from political decisions.”

We have held children’s art exhibitions annually since 2001, in order to contribute to peace and security in the region by connecting people to people despite the difficult relationship between countries. Through the exhibition and exchange of pictures and messages, drawn or written by children living in East Asia such as Japan, the two Koreas, and China, we aim to promote mutual understanding between the four nations. These events are run by an executive committee composed of representatives from 9 organizations in Japan.

At the end of August 2016, a flood occurred in the Tumen River, which runs along the border between China and North Korea, and caused great damage in the north-eastern part of North Korea. We provided assistance on behalf of RCCJ through the North Korean Red Cross Society after nine year’s absence and installed solar-powered water heaters, which were helpful for children’s healthcare in the nursery school and kindergarten reconstructed in Kang’an-dong, Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province.

Regarding interactions made through the children’s exhibitions, we visited several places in Japan, the two Koreas, and China in order to organize workshops for making a “kite,” a traditional game common in East Asia. The completed works from these workshops were exhibited in Osaka, Saitama, and Tokyo.

In addition, when we visited Pyongyang, eight university students from Japan accompanied us and interacted with students from the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies, conducting a study tour in the city and attending a workshop for exchanging opinions. This year marks the fifth year of this exchange program. Through the use of discussion panels at art exhibitions and report meetings, we were able to introduce this exchange program to many people.

Japanese and North Korean university students exchanging opinions in Pyongyang

Children attending children’s art exhibitions in Tokyo.

(source: “JVC Annual Report – 2016 report”)

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